Tag Archives: holidays

Thoughtful Gifts for the Harried Writer in Your Life

drawer unit on castorsI’ve done a gift list here and there in years past and it’s had the requisite nice pen/journal/#1 writer mug suggestions which come on, is so 2006. This year I’ve tried to come up with some items that are maybe less obvious but still helpful. Writers need to focus, after all, or they don’t write enough and then they get grumpy. So think of this list as grump-avoidance.

1. Noise-canceling head phones: You’ve got your nice cup of caffeine at your side, your trusty, beaten-up laptop, and two reference books next to you, and you plug in your white earbuds, only to realize that your physiology of your right outer ear is incompatible with Apple’s design, and holy hell those college kids three tables over sure are LOUD. Writing is not happening in this scenario. Make writing happen. These headphones from Creative are much more affordable than most at $60 (Bose is more like $300), and they’re well rated. Cut out the noise, and the fiddling with plastic. Read More…

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Father’s Day, 2013

Emile in a swingLike many people, I have mixed feelings about Father’s Day. Sure, there are lots of tweets and Facebook posts that go something like “to all the Dad’s [sic] out there,” obliterating that actually, there are better and worse examples of those who parent from the masculine zones of gender. A few years ago I joked with at least four other individuals in the room that we should start a “I Had a Shitty Father” club. We could emboss t-shirts and stamp out buttons and make zines. Why not turn personal trauma and angst into fun? Misery loves a good zine. But there are definitely moments I shared with my father that I carry with me today, like the Sundays after church when he and I would feed the ducks at the local pond (we didn’t know in the 1970s that it was bad for the ecology of it all), or his love of bygone music, or the thoughtful way he’d lay out my cereal choices in the morning before school, with the newspaper opened up to the comics section. I think I got a better dad than he shared with his older kids, and I do appreciate that.

These days I chase after a little boy reminding him to be careful when climbing on the tippy ottoman. Or the big steps that lead to our front door. Or the strangely busy residential road where we live. I was picking smashed raisins out of the one tiny carpet we own at some point last week when a wave of giggles hit me. This is full circle. I’m sure my mother had to pull all kinds of detritus out of the flooring when I stamped it on the linoleum, or shag-covered stairwell, and so on.  Read More…

Zombie Risk During the Holidays

zombie christmas greeting cardMany of us think of the time between Thanksgiving and the New Year as a happy season, filled with parties, presents, feasts, and family. The more cynical among us may grouse that such occasions are not cause for celebration, but very, very few of us see the holidays for the danger that it poses, which is this:

If the zombie apocalypse happened during the holidays, more people than usual would perish.

There are many reasons for this. In order to better protect the public good, I have listed them forthwith. Read, share, remember, people.

The Santa Myth–It sounds sweet to leave the back door unlocked or the sliding door unbarred, or the flue to the chimney in the open position, but these are all easy entry points for the undead to get into your house and ruin your merriment. Those aren’t reindeer hooves on the roof, people. Look, if zombie doomsday lands during Christmas season, you’re going to have to own up with your children about the fact that Santa does not exist. There’s no need for putting out cookies and milk, and there’s no reason to remove the barricades around the perimeter outside the house, either. Just hole up and hold on to dear life that DARPA or some one who still has a living brain will figure out how to help humanity survive.

Driving on Treacherous Roads to Visit People–The sun sets early at this time of year (Australians and Chileans excepted), which means that the howling for human flesh begins in the middle of the day. If you insist on seeing Aunt Maude because she gets lonely on Thanksgiving, for heaven’s sake depart at 8:00AM, an hour after dawn. You really owe it to your loved ones to take care while traveling in such trying times; bring those tire chains, crank-operated radios, and flamethrowers.

Giving Presents–Who knows what lies behind the pretty wrapping paper? To be extra safe that there’s nothing amiss in any given box, just hand out the presents in gallon-sized ziplock baggies. Remember the old adage: If you can’t see it, you don’t need it!

Drinking Lowers Alertness–Holiday celebrations sound like a good idea, sure, but consider that slowed reaction time, inhibited instincts to sense danger, and lowered ability to communicate could be the difference between getting away from hungry zombies and becoming a late night snack. Pass on the bubbly and pour yourself another mug of coffee instead. Also consider that gorging on Christmas cookies may make you sleepier than usual, another potential problem if you need to speed away to safety.

Christmas Lights Are a Beacon–Nothing says tasty person treat like an inflatable glowing, giant snow globe on the front lawn, or string after string of holiday lights. Even with their reduced intellectual capacity zombies will scrape over to ENORMOUS GLOWING OBJECTS. Save more than your energy bills. Save your lives and turn the lights out. You can have the Hannukah spirit in the safety of your walled off basement. Just tell yourselves the Maccabees had it worse and still somehow came out of it.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Lighting the Uh-Oh

Emile has lived through a holiday season once before, but last go around, he didn’t notice much of it. Holding up a 14-month-old to a Christmas tree bursting with colored lights is a bit like holding a moth up to the sun, except for the lack of fluttering. For me it just isn’t December if there’s not a tree bedecked with garland and sentimental ornaments, but we worried about setting anything up in the same space as our new walker of the household. I hatched a plan to hide the tree behind our click-clack futon so that until Emile learns to climb, direct access would be prevented. This also means that the lowest third of the tree is obscured by black vinyl, but whatever, for the wee one this Kmart brand 6.5-foot tree is like an amazing magical fortress.

Now then, for the sake of context, let me point out that for a 14-month-old, Emile is quite verbal. His vocabulary now includes the following:

  • Ow
  • Mama
  • Dada
  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • Woof (usually said to dogs or puppies)
  • Meow (usually said to cats or dogs)
  • Hi (his actual first word)
  • ‘Lo (short for hello, usually said to anything resembling an electronic device, always positioned in his hand at the back of his skull where naturally these devices reside)
  • Uncle
  • Apple (used for apples but also oranges and pears)
  • ‘Nana (for bananas, not grandmothers)
  • Bye-bye
  • Mwah (said in conjunction with a blown kiss)
  • No, or no-no-no (said with increasing frequency)
  • Yesh (often said with a nod that makes my heart explode because cynics like me can’t handle the cute)
  • Uh-oh Read More…

How to Get Through Thanksgiving Without Overly Gendering Everything

It’s one thing to recognize I’ve reached adulthood, but it’s quite another to be able to look back over many, many years and see that the threshold was crossed quite a long time ago. I’ve now got under my belt a large swath of experiences that have pointed in the direction of today. When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’ve learned to perfect my turkey preparation, just one of many aspects to the day that are now part and parcel of the holiday for me.

I’ve also gotten attached to a certain table setting for Thanksgiving, and to having the Macy’s Day Parade on in the background as I cook, which let me just say really sucks for people in the Pacific Time Zone. For those of us who grow up with Thanksgiving through our childhood and into adulthood, we have expectations around something that happens in that day. Eating the crappy green bean casserole, or at least having it on the table, arguing about who sits where, making a particular holiday cookie, there’s always something.

Also in my personal history is the need to dress up. It’s a formalish dinner, with the special china laid out and the polished silver on the fancy schmancy tablecloth. Mom would even enlist me in ironing the napkins, which of course I hated but which of course she hated worse. Which is why the job fell on me. (Remind me sometime to tell you about the enormous Jabba the Hut pile of ironing in the downstairs laundry.)

Now then, dress up often meant dress, which by the time I’d reached adolescence was more often a clean sweater and khakis, but my point, as obtuse as I’ve made it, is this: Thanksgiving is a gendered experience. Who sits on the couch, yelling at the football game, and who is in the kitchen prepping the meal. Who does the dishes afterward, who carves the turkey, there are many moments throughout the day that tell us something about gender roles and expectations.

Now that Emile is more aware of his surroundings and the relationships of the adults around him, it’s occurred to me that there are things I can do–as the adult that I am now–to help dial down some of the more sexist traditions that my culture has handed to me. There’s nothing revolutionary here, but maybe if we can make it through the next 15 Thanksgivings with less emphasis on sexist ideology, we’ll have made a small difference in the experience for our family and friends. Some of the ideas that come to mind are: Read More…

Desserts, Disasterously Easten

sugar panoramic eggsPicture a frozen lake midwinter, freshly fallen snow clinging to its banks as brightly colored skaters twirl about, carving figure 8s in the ice, while a protective line of evergreens takes up the background mountain range.

It all comes crashing apart as a gigantic tongue descends from the sky, slobbering over the scene and crashing onto the crowd. In one saliva-laden, fell swoop, the landscape is obliterated.

I look at the crumbled remains of the sugar egg on my mother’s dining room carpet, and think about Humpty Dumpty. There’s no putting this delicate creation back together, either. Now the paper figure skaters look unimpressive, lying among the crumbs of sugar on the area rug under the formal long dining table. Read More…

Enjoying the Holidays Zombie-Free

zombie carolersNothing blows a holiday party like an uninvited zombie guest. I for one don’t want to have all of my planning and preparation ruined by even one moaning undead person with a penchant for biting my other guests. Plus, those zombies are always bringing uninvited friends, and they’re horrible at making small talk. While anyone who smells of decomposition or has limbs falling off is easily identifiable as a zombie, an individual may be in an earlier state of zombification and thus harder to detect. Here are some easy ways to spot the burgeoning zombie so they don’t wreck your holiday: Read More…

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